Collected Essays series

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#1
All right, I'll grant you, this is for the die-hard Lovecraft fanatic (at least, in most cases; it can also be for those interested in the amateur journalism movement, popular culture, etc., as well), but I just received the newsletter from Hippocampus Press, and the final book in the 5-volume set of Lovecraft's Collected Essays is scheduled for release in December of this year (in tpb; hb is scheduled ca. Jan. next year). In addition, there will be a CD-ROM that not only has all the essays, but ancillary material by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi, including scans of the complete run of Lovecraft's amateur journal, The Conservative; a chronology of HPL's complete works (excluding letters), etc. For anyone interested in looking into the background behind Lovecraft's own fiction, these are a very useful tool; for those who enjoy well-written and often pungent essays (especially the travel, autobiographical or political essays), these can be a treat on their own -- though one must readjust to the fact that, in many of his travel essays, he wrote in a tongue-in-cheek imitation of the 18th-century manner that is amazingly faithful -- far beyond what he did in his published fiction.

So for anyone interested in finding out more about this, keep an eye out, as it looks like there are going to be quite a few new things on the Lovecraft front, including a new volume of his letters (third in the series by Hippocampus; there have also been two put out by Night Shade Books -- all with very minor editing, unlike the methods used in the Arkham House Selected Letters, which tended to trim some letters quite drastically, these give the unvarnished HPL, with all his faults as well as his strengths). If anyone wishes, they can PM me for more information.
 

Ozymandias

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#2
I must admit I have never read anything of Lovecraft's outside his fiction, but I'm willing to bet non-fiction work is pretty damn good as well. The man had quite the intellect. And didn't the total word count of his collective missives vastly outnumber the the word count of his fiction?
 
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#3
Indeed. If one simply looks at the number of his letters (not all of which were massive epistles, but many were), the estimate is that he wrote between 60,000 to 100,000 letters, of which about 40,000 survive. This total eclipses even the letters of Walpole, Voltaire, etc. in sheer volume. And, as has been pointed out, Lovecraft's letters are not simply the sort of letters one genrally thinks of, but cover a vast array of topics, from astronomy to zoology, quite literally, and usually with an acute grasp of the subject. They also demonstrate the wide range of his personality, from almost painfully pedantic to outrageously wisecracking.

Actually, in word count, his essays overshadow his fiction, including his revisions, and there's a quite large volume of his complete poetry that was published a few years ago, as well ... the majority of which, again, is likely to appeal only to the hardened Lovecraft fan, or to someone interested in certain technical or historical points... but some of which, especially the fantastic poetry and some of the satirical poetry, is really quite good.
 

Ozymandias

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#4
I've read some of his poetry and found it to be quite good. I'm no literature major (at least not yet. I intend to study it in college) but I know what I like.

I fear that in today's day and age men like Lovecraft will become extinct. I mean he was pretty extraordinary for his own time, but I just can't imagine a man like that emerging from my generation.
 
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#5
That is difficult to say... We always have the autodidacts with us (thank goodness!), and in the broader literary spectrum (if not in generic fiction) we've seen a resurgence of lush writing since the 1980s, anyway, with writers like Styron; and Lovecraft's increasing popularity and acceptance by the more formal literary lions, as evinced by his publication in the Library of America series -- a very select series indeed -- tends to indicate that there is that possibility. The difficulty, as I see it, is not so much in such a talent actually being out there, as in their finding someone to publish their work -- but with the small presses and the pod publishers and such, even this is more hopeful than it was for Lovecraft in his day, where he had extremely few venues in which to publish his work. Even the amateur press could only publish his earliest stories, as the later ones were far too long for those small journals. So short a tale as "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" had to be divided up into two sections for its original publication in The Wolverine (part 1, March 1921; part 2 June 1921), so you can imagine what a time they would have had publishing something like "The Whisperer in Darkness". This is not something a modern writer would quite have to contend with, so I wouldn't entirely lose hope.

In fact, there are some contenders for that sort of title, including Thomas Ligotti (try especially his "Last Feast of Harlequin") or Willum Hopfrog Pugmire, among others -- both very distinctive voices that are eloquent, imaginative, and highly intelligent and individual.
 
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#6
JD sort of beat me to it, but Lovecraft definitely has some kind of a successor in Ligotti. Of course Ligotti is also some bits Kafka and more vehemently pessimistic than HPL was.

JD what has this person Pugmire written? I've never heard of him before but a recommendation by you is something to seriously consider.
 
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#8
This is probably a really amateur questions, j. d., but I'll ask it anyway: Are any of Lovecraft's letters collected?

The reason I ask is, I'm fascinated by people like Lovecraft who were voluminous letter writers, and when they are published they are interesting (to me, at least) to read.
 
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#9
GOLLUM said:
Yes, who is this mysterious Pugmire and how does he compare to the great Ligotti??
A thank you to both Ravenus and GOLLUM.... Pugmire is someone who has been published mostly by small presses, and is somewhat elusive. However, here's a tiny snippet on the man:

http://cyberpsychos.netonecom.net/bios/WHPugmire.html

He also has a collection coming up from Hippocampus Press, The Fungal Stain, due out this month, I believe. Other than that, the three I've been able to track down are:

Tales of Sesqua Valley: Weird Tales of Lovecraftian Nightmare and Dark Fantasy (1997)
Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror (1999)
Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts (2003)

He also has a short story, "The Serenade of Starlight" in The Children of Cthulhu anthology, and a few other things scattered in various Chaosium anthologies.

Comparing Pugmire and Ligotti is -- to use a trite simile -- like comparing apples and oranges. Pugmire's prose is not nearly so dense, nor his textures so layered. Yet his often very brief tales -- almost vignettes -- are close to poetry in their ambiguity and surreal approach to the world, and he does have the same ability to make a reader feel that they've stepped into the Pit ... and that that's where they've been living all along, unknowing. However, Pugmire has a bit more of the strain of the Romantic writers of the early 19th century to him, as well, with a large dash of Gothic imagination. Not to everyone's taste, but decidedly worth checking out if you can find them... Unfortunately, most of his stuff is now out of print and commands unbelievably high prices; when I bought Sesqua Valley, I paid (with s&h) $51.00 US for it ... it now goes for something around $150-175 US. (Much like Ligotti's earlier work, such as The Agonising Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales (1999) which tends to go for a minimum of about $240 US...

However, Pugmire does tend to heavily revise his work at times (sometimes so that the connection between the two versions is almost unrecognizable), and the new collection, which should be readily available, is going to have a fairly wide representation of the types of work he does, from what I understand, and is much more affordable. He is also, as I think I've noted elsewhere, one of the very few Lovecraftian writers to garner praise from S. T. Joshi along the way.
 
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#11
littlemissattitude said:
This is probably a really amateur questions, j. d., but I'll ask it anyway: Are any of Lovecraft's letters collected?

The reason I ask is, I'm fascinated by people like Lovecraft who were voluminous letter writers, and when they are published they are interesting (to me, at least) to read.
Ooops! Somehow I missed your post, LMA ... perhaps we were working on them at the same time. Yes, there are several collections of his letters: There's the 5-volume Selected Letters from Arkham House, though I'm not sure which of these are currently in print; there are two volumes of letters put out by Night Shade Books: Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei and Letters from New York; a book of autobiographical passages compiled from his correspondence by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Lord of a Visible World; a beautiful book compiled from the his correspondence with HPL by Willis Conover, Lovecraft at Last (which often has photos of the letters, and various other things the two of them discussed, as well ... the main drawback if you're looking for the letters proper is that this has been edited in such a way as to make it a conversation between the two, using quotes from the letters for the purpose -- however, the exact source-letters are identified in an appendix); the complete extant correspondence between Fritz Leiber and HPL, Writers of the Dark, edited by Ben J. S. Szumskyj and S. T. Joshi; and several books of correspondence from Hippocampus Press, two of which have been published, and others forthcoming. The two currently available are: Letters to Alfred Galpin and Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner; both of these also include selections of writings from each of the respective correspondents, as well. The forthcoming volumes include a book of his letters to James Ferdinand Morton, a close amateur colleague, a planned book of the complete correspondence (both sides) by Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and one of both sides of the correspondence of HPL and August Derleth. And there are numerous other books that have smaller selections of his letters, as well.

Ummmm.... sorry you asked yet?:p :D

As noted, the problem with the Selected Letters is the editing, which was often arbitrary and very odd, leaving out large portions of many letters (often some of the most illuminating passages, frustratingly); yet it is the most comprehensive selection of his letters available to date, and for all the faults, is full of fascinating reading. Lovecraft really was one of the great epistolarians, not only in quantity, but in quality; it has been argued for some time by many that his letters may, in fact, be his greatest contribution to literature, as they represent some of the finest letters written in the past two centuries. Ironically, it may, in the end, be for his correspondence -- the very thing which Lovecraft himself would not have chosen, as it viewed it as simply a means of discourse rather than formal literary composition -- for which he will be remembered by the scholars of the future.
 
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#12
j. d. worthington said:
Ummmm.... sorry you asked yet?:p :D
Not at all.:) Looks like there's quite a bit out there, but some of it possibly a bit difficult to come by. The ones that sound most interesting to me are the "both-sides" correspondence between HPL and particular other individuals.

Thanks for that.
 

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#13
j. d. worthington said:
The forthcoming volumes include a planned book of the complete correspondence (both sides) by Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.
That's the one I want the most!

If I ever get the chance to purchase such a thing. Will you be getting this one JD?

Correspondence b/w Derleth and HPL is also of interest.

What of any surviving correspondence b/w Smith and Howard?

Off topic: I've come across this site on REH. Looks fairly informative, thought you may want a look....http://www.thecimmerian.com/?m=200610 index to other sites...http://www.thecimmerian.com/?page_id=247
 
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#14
GOLLUM: Well, if it's published by Hippocampus (which it may be)... then yes, I'll definitely be getting it, as I've a lifetime subscription for their publications (I hocked my soul to get it, but I got it, nonetheless). It will likely be either through them, Night Shade Books, or Wildside Press, each of which seem very devoted to keeping classic fantasy and sf writers in print, as well as promoting many of the newer and more promising voices in the field.

As for the Smith/Howard correspondence ... seems to me that I've heard the possibility mentioned here, as well. I know that Arkham has published a volume of Smith's Selected Letters, which includes many of his letters to Howard, Lovecraft, Derleth, etc., and they've done one of the Smith/Sterling correspondence; also that the old Ace paperback selection from Glenn Lord's The Howard Collector has a selection of his letters to various writers including Smith. I believe the legal tangles in publishing Howard's correspondence have finally been put to rest, so that's no longer an issue, as it was for several decades (just as the question who owned the rights to unpublished works by HPL had been in limbo since the 1940s). But if I hear anything more, I'll let you know. In the meantime, you might want to check out each of the following for updates:

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/book.aspx?bookid=129

(I've chosen this page as it not only gives entry to their catalogue, but gives you the information on the Complete Fantasies of CAS set they're putting out)

http://www.hippocampuspress.com/

(go also to the future projects link for updates on new projects)

http://www.wildsidebooks.com/home.asp

(They are also putting out a 10-volume set of all of Howard's weird fiction and poetry; they also have revived several of the old pulp titles, as well as having reprints of very hard-to-find works in the fantasy and science fiction fields, such as The Frozen Pirate by W. Clark Russell.)

Thanks for the link... there are tons of sites dedicated to Howard, and this looks like one of the better ones. I'm definitely going to spend some time on there! Here's another one, named after the published journal devoted to Howard studies:

http://www.robert-e-howard.org/TDM/
 
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#15
littlemissattitude said:
Not at all.:) Looks like there's quite a bit out there, but some of it possibly a bit difficult to come by. The ones that sound most interesting to me are the "both-sides" correspondence between HPL and particular other individuals.

Thanks for that.
Yes... I think the "both sides" volumes are the best but, unfortunately, since so many of HPL's correspondents were virtual unknowns (as with his many amateur journalism friends), a lot of that is lost... even the whole of his correspondence with Henry S. Whitehead was inadvertently destroyed by Whitehead's father after his (HSW's) untimely death... the Smith correspondence was partially lost when vandals set fire to CAS's home a few years before his death, as well ... several of his manuscripts were either lost or partially burnt in that conflagration. But what we have is, apparently, scheduled for publication in the wake of the renewed interest in these pioneers of modern fantasy.
 

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#16
Thank you for that information.

Being particularly keen on Howard's work I have several Howard links but not that one, duly added to favourites.
 
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#17
For anyone who is interested, the final volume of the Collected Essays is out in paperback now (hardbound to be released in a few more weeks); it includes all his philosophical and biographical essays (including the humorous ones), along with such things as "Cats and Dogs" and his ponderings on the political scene -- the last might come as a surprise to those who know HPL only through his fiction, yet they helped to form some portions of his fiction (especially the societies of the Old Ones and the Great Race).

And for LMA: They are supposed to be putting out his letters to James Ferdinand Morton sometime this year ... you'd probaby find quite a lot of that very interesting, as Morton was a very progressive thinker, one who fought for equal rights and supported sexual equality; and the debates between them makes for interesting reading, from what I've seen...

And sometime next year they will, apparently, be putting out both sides of the correspondence between HPL and CAS; and that should be of interest to several people around here, as each sparked the other's creativity several times....

Collected Essays 5: Philosophy; Autobiography & Miscellanyby H P Lovecraft- Hippocampus Press
 
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#18
Well, having had a chance to see the table of contents for this final volume, there may be some things some of you here might be interested in looking at, as this contains:

4 pieces of autobiography by HPL
tributes to colleagues Robert E. Howard and Henry S. Whitehead
a raft of several unfinished pieces, such as the fragments Derleth used for The Lurker at the Threshold, his notes to At the Mountains of Madness, "The Shadow Out of Time", "The Challenge from Beyond", "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and the revision story "Medusa's Coil"
his "Commonplace Book", where he wrote down his story ideas and germs -- a fascinating document that has been out of print for far too long... very suggestive stuff in there....
and a complete chronology of his works (22 pages in length)

not to mention a plethora of other things (the volume is something like 380 pages in length)

Anyone curious about origins of Lovecraft's work, or seeing how he used some of the materials surrounding him, will find plenty of food for thought here....
 
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#20
Lovely story, that. Glad to see Hodgson back in print these days.

Yes, looking at HPL's essays and letters -- and a fair amount of his poetry, which was satirical in nature -- gives a much different picture of the man; hardly a gloomy cuss, but damned intelligent.... and he loved a bit of controversy.....:p
 

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